This article is a tutorial on how to use bitcoin, ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. Crypto is not just for hackers any more. There are now online services where you can buy goods with your crypto.
You can start by buying a bitcoin from an exchange like Coinbase, which will put the money in your digital wallet. It’s like a bank account, only better – you don’t have to give them your bank details, which leaves you free to use it any way you want.
Crypto is a new kind of mathematics that allows you to send money over the internet without any financial institution up-front having to trust you. When you send money, it goes from your computer to the recipient’s computer, and gets stored in an electronic “wallet” inside their computer.
Most financial transactions are still like this: for example, bank A sends money to bank B, which in turn sends it to bank C, and so on. But with crypto you can send money directly from your wallet directly to someone else’s wallet (or through an intermediary if they have one) without ever having to deal with a third party. If you buy something online with crypto, the vendor will get paid the same amount of crypto as they would if they got cash instead.
The bad news is that no one knows what crypto is good for yet! It’s still just another mathematical trick. The good news is that all the math seems pretty solid.
It seems sinful to be glad that we don’t have bitcoin, but you can’t help it. It’s the curse of being a techie: you get excited by the possibility of something new and amazing and different, but it takes time to understand what it is, what’s going on, how it works, and whether it might be dangerous.
But there is one good thing about bitcoin. The way it works is really hard to explain. It is not just hard for non-techies; even many people who do work with computers find it confusing. It really does seem like something from science fiction.
That’s probably for the best; if your system was easy to explain, its flaws would be obvious long before you finished implementing it. It would have been fixed long ago.
Crypto is a computer-based system for exchanging money that makes use of advanced cryptography techniques, such as hashing and public key encryption. The first thing crypto allows you to do is create digital signatures—messages so convincing they are virtually impossible to fake.
A bank might use crypto to transfer money between two accounts instead of sending physical bills across the street by hand-carrier or armored truck. A smartcard might let you pay your electric bill at home with a tap of
A lot of people think that the purpose of cryptography is to keep messages private, which is true. But not many people realize that the purpose of cryptography is to create a trusted medium of exchange. Cryptography does not exist for the purpose of securing communication; it exists for the purpose of creating a trustworthy medium of exchange. The reason you should send IOUs instead of cash is because cash is so easy to counterfeit, and once your IOU is in somebody’s possession they can use it to print more cash, and then they can use that to buy more IOUs, and so on. In other words, you don’t want all those notes bouncing around in different hands. You want them all safely under one roof, where you can count on them being there when you need them.
The important difference between IOUs and cash is that with IOUs you can borrow, whereas with cash you can only give them away.
I’ve been researching and writing about cryto for a long time now. I think the most important thing to know about cryto is that it’s not magic. The math behind it is solid, but the math is not magic. If you know how to do calculus, you can understand exactly why something like Bitcoin is possible.
If you want to understand just how powerful and exciting cryto has been, I recommend this book: Bitcoin: How Decentralization Changes Everything .
If you want to understand what makes a currency valuable, you can start by looking at something that is not a currency. Cryptocurrencies are digital money, like Bitcoin and Ether. But they are not currencies in the normal sense; they are “coins” that exist only as code.
In the background, they are backed by real assets: money in a digital bank account somewhere, and sometimes even physical stuff in the form of a deed or a mortgage. In return for these assets being locked into the code, the code has rules that grant the owner the right to spend them. And those rules can be changed at any time.
Of course, changing those rules is what gives cryptocurrencies their value. A cryptocurrency that can’t be changed at will is worth nothing.
The fact that cryptocurrencies can’t be changed is what makes them different from traditional currencies. It’s possible to change an existing currency system; it took centuries and lots of bloodshed before governments got control of gold and put it into banks. But it’s not possible to change a cryptocurrency system once it’s established..
Bitcoins are one of the oldest successful forms of money, and they are getting even more popular. But many people have never heard of them. That’s because Bitcoin isn’t a “real” currency. It is an electronic asset called a cryptocurrency, which means that you can use it to buy things, but it’s not like money that you can hold in your bank account or use for transactions with merchants.
The most common cryptocurrency is Bitcoin. It was released in 2009 by someone who called himself Satoshi Nakamoto. The name is a pseudonym; no one knows who he or she was, although there are some clues in the code. It is vital to understand that Nakamoto meant Bitcoin to be a purely digital currency, and not a payment system like Visa or PayPal.
Bitcoin does not exist as money in any physical sense. You don’t go to your bank and pull out your Bitcoin wallet or count out your bitcoins with cash on your fingers; but that doesn’t change the fact that bitcoins are real assets, just as gold and silver are real assets. Bitcoins just aren’t physical objects that you can hold in your hands and make transactions with directly.
It’s not hard to see why someone would invent such a thing: there’s nothing keeping you from doing so today